Gabby Douglas Says Olympics Social Media Critiques Are Hurtful

In the summer of 2012, gymnast Gabby Douglas was one of the breakout stars from the London Olympics. Gabby won gold medals in both the individual all-around and team competitions.

One of the byproducts of the first social media Olympics was the unnecessary commentary that Gabby faced regarding her hair.

If you thought the public eased up for Rio 2016, you would be wrong. In addition to a reup on the commentary on her hair, some of the other criticism Gabby faced this year; people felt the 20-year-old was unpatriotic when she was the only member of the Final Five who didn’t place her hand on her heart during the national anthem after they won gold. Next they said she was bitter when Simone Biles won the individual all-around and Aly Raisman won silver and Douglas – who was clapping – didn’t give a standing ovation like her teammates Laurie Hernandez and Madison Kocian.

Douglas finished third in qualifying, but only two from each country are allowed into the Finals, which meant she would miss the chance to compete for the medal she won in 2012.

In her final Olympics, Gabby addressed the social media backlash

“I tried to stay off the internet because there’s just so much negativity,” Douglas said. “Either it was about my hair or my hand not over my heart [on the medal podium] or I look depressed. … It was hurtful. It was hurtful. It was. It’s been kind of a lot to deal with.”

Douglas noted “I apologized if I offended anyone” by merely standing at attention rather than copying her four teammates, who had their hands over their hearts. But she still remains a bit baffled. “I’ve always said it was an honor to represent the U.S. You always do this for your country, and then, like people say, for yourself and other people.”

After Douglas thanked everyone in the press area and gave way to Madison Kocian, who won the silver medal in the uneven bars competition, she walked down the hallway at Olympic Arena. Then Douglas stood in a corner, facing a wall, and had a good, long cry.

The team says they’re as close as sisters.  Douglas actually spent the morning of the all-around helping Biles and Raisman get ready.  So it was hurtful to hear that she was bitter and unsupportive.

“I love them. … I always supported them,” Douglas said

“When I heard some of the comments, I was finally like ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, that’s far from me and far from my personality at all,” Douglas said. “I’ve been through a lot. A lot. Sometimes I sit back and say, ‘Wait. What did I do to disrespect people? What have I done to disrespect the USA?’”

“I don’t get that part,” Douglas said, tearing up again. “I’m sorry.”

Today the hashtag #LOVE4GABBYUSA was trending on Twitter to combat the backlash against her and show her love and support.